Изображения страниц



over the bluff down to the bank of the river. The tents of the Rebels were promptly fired, and their blankets and camp equipage destroyed with them. But, by this time, Maj. Gen. Polk, commanding in Columbus, had been thoroughly waked up, and, perceiving his camp across the river in possession of our forces, had trained some of his heaviest guns to bear from the hights on that side of







federate strength at different points | ried the camp, capturing several guns, throughout the State, was greedily and driving the enemy completely absorbing and annexing Kentucky, without encountering any forcible opposition from her 'loyal' authorities. Requesting Gen. Smith, commanding the Union garrison at Paducah, to make a feint of attacking Columbus from the north-east, Gen. Grant, sending a small force of his own down the Kentucky side of the great river to Ellicott's Mills, twelve miles from Columbus, embarked (Nov. 6th) 2,850 men, mainly Illinoisans, upon four steamboats, convoyed by the gunboats Tyler and Lexington, and dropped down the river to Island No. 1, eleven miles above Columbus, where they remained until 7 A. M. of the 7th, when they proceeded to Hunter's Point, some two to three miles above the ferry connecting Columbus with Belmont, where the whole array was debarked on the Missouri shore, formed in line of battle, and pushed forward as rapidly as possible, to overwhelm the somewhat inferior force of Rebels encamped at Belmont. This movement was rather annoyed than checked by a small Rebel detachment promptly thrown forward to impede its progress; but by 11 o'clock our little army was formed westward of and facing the Rebel camp, which was found well protected by a strong abatis nearly surrounding it on every side but that of the river. Fighting their way through this with great gallantry, though stoutly resisted by the Rebels, the Unionists reached and car

18 The Chicago Journal has a letter from its Cairo correspondent, from which we extract the following spirited account of the battle:

"The design was to reach Belmont just before daylight; but, owing to unavoidable delays in embarking, it was 8 o'clock before the fleet






the river upon the position of our victorious regiments, which was much lower, and thoroughly exposed to their fire, which our men had no means of effectively returning." Meantime, he had sent over three re

reached Lucas Bend, the point fixed upon for debarkation. This is about three miles north of Columbus, Ky., on the Missouri side.

"The enemy were encamped on the high ground back from the river, and about two and a half miles from the landing. From their position, they could easily see our landing, and had

[ocr errors]

giments, under Gen. Pillow, to the | Col. Tappan, who originally held the

immediate relief of his routed and sorely pressed fugitives; while three others, under Gen. Cheatham, had been landed between our soldiers and their boats, with intent to cut off their retreat; and, finally, as his fears of a direct attack on Columbus were dispelled, Polk himself crossed over with two additional regiments, making eight in all, or not less than 5,000 men, who were sent as reënforcements to the three regiments, under ample time to dispose of their forces to receive us, which they did with all dispatch. They also sent a detachment of light artillery and infantry out to retard our march, and annoy us as much as possible.

A line of battle was formed at once on the levee, Col. Fouke taking command of the center, Col. Buford of the right, and Col. Logan of the left.

"The advance from the river bank to the Rebel encampment was a running fight the entire distance, the Rebels firing and falling back all the way; while our troops gallantly received their fire without flinching, and bravely held on their course, regardless of the missiles of death that were flying thick and fast about them. The way was of the most indifferent character, lying through woods with thick underbrush, and only here and there a path or a rough country road.

"The three divisions kept within close distance of each other, pressing over all obstacles and overcoming all opposition; each striving for the honor of being first in the enemy's camp. This honor fell to the right division, led by Col. Buford. It was the gallant 27th Illinois, who, with deafening cheers, first waved the Stars and Stripes in the midst of the Rebels' campingground.

"The scene was a terribly exciting one-musketry and cannon dealing death and destruction on all sides; men grappling with men in a fearful death-struggle; column after column rushing eagerly up, ambitious to obtain a post of danger; officers riding hither and thither in the thickest of the fight, urging their men on, and encouraging them to greater exertions; regiments charging into the very jaws of death with frightful yells and shouts, more effective, as they fell upon the ears of the enemy, than a thousand rifle-ballsand, in the midst of all, is heard one long, loud, continuous round of cheering as the Star-Spangled Banner is unfurled in the face of the foe, and defiantly supplants the mongrel colors that had. but a moment before, designated the spot as Rebel ground.

"The 22d boys have the honor of having silenced and captured a battery of twelve pieces, which had been dealing destruction with marked success. The 30th had been badly cut up by

place. Of course, our exhausted and largely outnumbered soldiers could do nothing better than to cut their way through the fresh troops obstructing their return to their boats, which they did with great gallantry and success, bringing off all their own guns, with the two best of those they had captured from the Rebels, and gaining their boats about 5 P. M., with a loss of two caissons, some ammunition and baggage, and of about 400 this battery, and were straining every nerve to capture it. They express considerable disappointment that the prize was snatched from them. They turned away in search of new laurels; and, in charging into the very midst of the camp, were drawn into an ambuscade, where they were again suffering terribly, though maintaining their ground unflinchingly, when the 31st came to their assistance.

"An impetuous and irresistible charge was then made, that drove the Rebels in all direc tions, and left the field in possession of the Federal forces. The Rebel camps were fired, and, with all their supplies, ammunition, baggage, etc., were totally destroyed.

"The discovery, on the Kentucky side, that we were in possession of their camp, led to an opening of the Rebel batteries from that direc tion upon us. Their fire was very annoying; the more so as we were not in a position to return it.

"Just at this juncture, the report was brought to Gen. Grant, by Lieut. Pittman, of the 30th Illinois, who had, with his company (F), been on scouting duty, that heavy reenforcements were coming up to the Rebels from the opposite side of the river. Indeed, the report was also made that the enemy were pouring over the river in immense numbers, and the danger was imminent that our retreat would be cut off. The order to fall back to the boats was therefore given, but not a moment too soon.

"The way was already filled with Rebel troops; and, as we had fought our way up to the encampment, so we were obliged to fight back to our boats, and against desperate odds. But the men were not lacking in courage, and fought like veterans, giving ample evidence of their determination. Every regiment of Federal troops suffered more or less severely in their return march; but the general opinion prevails that the Rebels suffered far greater losses than we.

"Wherever they made a stand, we put them to flight; and, although we lost many brave men, either killed, wounded, or taken prisoners, we made at least two of their men bite the dust for every one that fell from our ranks. Our regiments all reached their boats, though with considerably thinned ranks."



killed, wounded, and taken prisoners.' Col. Dougherty, of the 22d Illinois, was severely wounded and taken pris


Col. Lauman, of the 7th Iowa, and Maj. McClurken, of the 30th Illinois, were also badly wounded; while among the killed were Lieut. Col. Wentz, of the 7th Iowa, Capts. Brolaski, Markle, and Lieut. Dougherty. Gens. Grant and McClernand, who evinced the most reckless bravery throughout, each had his horse shot under him. The 22d Illinois lost 23 killed and 74 wounded, in- | cluding Capts. Challenor and Abbott, who were taken prisoners. The 7th Iowa lost 26 killed and 80 wounded, including nearly all its field officers." The entire Rebel loss" was from 600 to 1,000; among them, Col. John V.

19 Gen. Grant, in his official report, dated Cairo, Nov. 12th, says:

"Our loss was about 84 killed, 150 woundedmany of them slightly-and about an equal number missing."

A letter preserved in The Rebellion Record, dated Camp McClernand, Cairo, Nov. 8th, says: "The Memphis returned at midnight. The expedition that went down upon her with flags of truce report the whole number of our dead, found and buried by them upon the battle-field, at 85. This includes all. The Rebels acknowledge their loss to be 350 killed."

A private in Taylor's battery writes:

"After we got out into the river, and in range, we opened with three of our guns, together with the gunboats: and the way we dropped the shell among them was a caution. The firing did not cease till sundown."

This private sums up the battle as follows:

"To recapitulate: We had about 4,000 men; attacked about 3,000 at Belmont, and drove them from the field; when they were reënforced by 4,000 from above and 3,000 below, together with cavalry and four batteries from Columbus, and their heavy guns from the bluffs opposite playing down upon our men all the time; they could look right down on the battle from the shore, where Pillow was said to be in command."

The Memphis Avalanche's (Rebel) account of the battle says:

"We have 91 prisoners and over 100 of their wounded in our hands."

[blocks in formation]


Wright," of the 13th Tennessee, and Maj. Butler, of the 11th Louisiana, killed.

It is morally certain that the Rebel loss in this action was the greater; yet, for lack of proper combinations, and because of the fact that, of the 10,000 men we might and should have had in the action, less than 4,000 were actually present, the prestige of victory inured to the Rebels, who chased our weary men to their boats, and fired at them, as they, having cut their cables in their haste, steamed up the river. When our gunboats, gaining a proper distance from the shore, obtained the range of the exulting Rebels on the bank, the latter promptly desisted and retired.

of those gunboats at 1 killed and 2 wounded; and, with regard to the general result, says:

"My opinion is, after careful inquiry, as strag glers are still coming in, that our loss of killed, wounded, and missing, will amount to 500 persons, together with 25 baggage wagons, 100 horses, 1,000 overcoats, and 1,000 blankets."

21 Pollard, with unusual candor, says:

"The list of our [Rebel] killed, wounded, and missing, numbers 632."

A Rebel account of the battle by an eye-witness, printed in The Memphis Appeal, gives the official loss in four regiments at 364, and says the loss in the others has not been announced; but if in the same ratio, it must have been over a thousand. And yet The Memphis Avalanche bulletin says:

"Capt. John Morgan estimates the loss of our entire army at about 100 killed, and less than 200 wounded."

22 Col. Wright had for some years been a Democratic member of Congress, and an intimate friend, as well as compatriot, of Hon. Philip B. Fouke, a Democratic member from Tennessee. When they parted, at the close of the session of 1860-61, Wright said to his friend: "Phil., I expect the next time we meet, it will be on the battle-field." Sure enough, their next meeting was in this bloody struggle, where Wright fell mortally wounded, and 60 of his men were taken prisoners by Col. Fouke's regiment.



ON Sunday, June 2d, 1861, while | the Minnesota, then blockading the harbor of Charleston, was looking after a suspicious vessel that was observed to the southward, a little schooner of some fifty tuns, carrying an ugly-looking 18-pounder mounted on a swivel amidships, and manned by twenty-two men, of whom not more than half could find room at once under the shelter of her deck, slipped out from under the lee of Fort Sumter, by the north channel, taking first a northward course, so as to allay suspicion on board the blockader, but intending to stretch boldly across the Gulf Stream to Great Abaco, and lie in wait near the Hole-in-the-Wall for unarmed Yankee merchantmen traf ficking between Northern ports and Cuba.

She was lucky at the outset, almost beyond her hopes; falling in, when scarcely a day at sea, with the brig Joseph, of Rockland, Me., laden with sugar from Cardenas, Cuba, for Philadelphia. Setting an American flag in her main rigging, to indicate her wish to speak the stranger, the privateer easily decoyed the Joseph within speaking distance, when he ordered her captain to lower his boat and come on board. This command having been readily obeyed, the merchantman was astounded by the information, fully authenticated by the 18-pounder aforesaid, that he was a prize to the nameless wasp on whose deck he stood, which had unquestionable authority from Mr. Jefferson

Davis to capture all vessels belonging to loyal citizens of the United States. There was plainly nothing to be said; so the Yankee skipper said nothing; but was held a prisoner on board his captor, while a prize-crew of eight well-armed men was sent on board the Joseph, directed to take her with her men into Georgetown, S. C.

At 5 P. M., of that day, a brig hove in sight; and the Confederate schooner at once made all sail directly toward her, expecting, by the easy capture of a second richly laden merchantman, to complete a good day's work, even for June. On nearing her, however, he was astonished in turn by a show of teeth-quite too many of them for his one heavy grinder. Putting his craft instantly about, he attempted, by sharp sailing, to escape; but it was too late. He was under the guns of the U. S. brig Perry, Lieut. E. G. Parrott commanding, which at once set all sail for a chase, firing at intervals, as signals that her new acquaintance was expected to stop. The Savannah-for that word, displayed in raised letters on the front part of her trunk cabin, seemed to be, or at least to have been, her name-did not appear to compre hend; for she sent four shots at the Perry, one of which passed through her rigging. So the chase continued till 8 o'clock P. M., when the Perry had hauled so close to the puzzling little craft as to order her by trumpet to heave to, when the schooner lowered all her sails, and her officers


ran below. In a few moments, the two quarter-boats of the Perry were alongside, and their crews leaped upon the flyaway's deck; when all remaining mystery as to her character was thoroughly dispelled. Her men at once stepped forward and surrendered their side-arms; and, perceiving there was no bloodshed, the leaders soon emerged from the cabin, and did likewise. All were promptly transferred to the Perry, and returned in her to Charleston bar; whence they were dispatched, on the 7th, as prisoners, in what had been their own vessel, to New York, where they arrived, in charge of Midshipman McCook and a prize crew, on the 15th. They were arraigned and some of them tried as pirates, but not convicted—Mr. Jefferson Davis, by a letter to President Lincoln, dated Richmond, July 6th, declaring that he would retaliate on our prisoners in his hands any treatment that might be inflicted on them. No answer was returned to this letter; but the privateer's crew were ultimately exchanged, like other prisoners of


was repeated, two months later, by the Petrel, formerly the U. S. revenue cutter Aiken, but turned over to South Carolina by her officers in the infancy of Secession. Running out of Charleston on a cruise, the Petrel soon encountered the St. Lawrence, gunboat, and, mistaking her for a merchantman, fired at her as a summons to surrender. The St. Lawrence at once returned the compliment with a broadside, sinking the Rebel craft off-hand, with five of her crew. The residue, thirty-six in number, were sent to Fort Mifflin, on the Delaware, as prisoners.

Gen. Benj. F. Butler sailed, August 26, 1861, from Fortress Monroe, as commander of a military and naval force whose destination was secret. It consisted of the fifty-gun frigates Minnesota, Wabash, and Cumberland, with four smaller national vessels and two steam transports, carrying 800 soldiers, with two tugs laden with supplies; the Naval force under the command of Com. Stringham. Arriving the second night off the entrance through Hatteras Inlet to The Savannah's rough experience Pamlico Sound, it was found defend


[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

Explanations to the plan of the Bombardment of Forts Hatteras and Clark.

[blocks in formation]
« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »